Some shy away from doors that open to unknown places.
I have always been drawn to them.
I don’t recall what caused my instant and all-consuming obsession to own a 928, this most-unloved of exotic Porsches. But once I got onto the roller coaster and the safety bar clicked down, there was no getting off.
For me, 928s have always been the red-headed stepchild of the Porsche world. Rumor has it that Porsche CEO Ferdinand Piëch showed his personal Maserati Ghibli to his team of engineers and designers and said to them, “Build me a Porsche like this.”
With all due respect to Porsche and the car I now own, the butt of the Ghibli is way sexy. The 928, kind of potato-fed bulbous.
The “Stuttgart Corvettes” were a sales failure, and their massive repair bills quickly outstripped their plummeting resale values. Nonetheless, Porsche, because it is Porsche, kept building and improving them. From 1978 to 1995, they got better, faster, more complicated and more expensive every year.
But you probably already know all this.
Like Alice, I was determined to go down the rabbit hole.
The hunt is on
My first choice as a Porsche enabler was SCM alum and Panorama Editor Rob Sass.
He sent me a handful of listings. I tossed the ones with an asking price of $15,000 and descriptions like, “I had never built a 928 engine before; this was fun,” and, “When I put the new dash in, I got the seams almost straight.”
A Craigslist post from High-Tec Automotive in the San Francisco Bay Area had promise.
While I mostly use Craigslist to buy and sell used motorcycle boots and fish tanks, the listing was very well done.
But first, I had SCM 1000 Tour Director Neil d’Autremont (another former 928 owner) find me a 928 to try on for size. Like Cinderella and the glass slipper, I knew in advance it would fit.
We find the one
The Craigslist car, a 1991 automatic, was dark blue with blue leather. A two-owner car, it had less than 60,000 miles and all of its paperwork including the original bill of sale. Never hit or painted.
It had been in storage for many years. Greg Maissen, the affable and knowledgeable salesman, went over a checklist of all the things his specialist, Deven Wailes, had done to bring it back from hibernation. Retail cost would have been well over $15,000.
Greg was a better negotiator than I was. I started at $25,000 and he countered at $29,000. I tried to explain that I was taking money from my son’s 529 college fund to go above $25,000. I told him that at $29,000, Clackamas Community College would be replacing Harvard. He was sympathetic but unmoved, so I apologized to Bradley and once again became a Porsche owner.
My good friend and fellow enabler Chris Bright, a former 928 owner and currently piloto of a Ferrari 348 (a car almost as unloved as the 928, so he was doubly sympatico), offered to drive the car from the Bay Area back to Portland.
I didn’t stop to wonder why I kept meeting former 928 owners…
Chris drove the car up the coast, and said it performed perfectly, except for an occasional — well, actually more like continual — chirping noise. He wondered if a bird had gotten stuck in the climate-control system.
I had asked him to make two obligatory stops, one at the Drive-Thru Tree Park off Highway 101 in Leggett, CA, and the other at the Trees of Mystery, in front of the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Great Blue Ox in nearby Klamath.
Just another $6k
The car arrived in Portland and Neil whisked it off to Al Blanchard at A&P Specialties, our local 928 gurus, for a check-over. The chirping noise was a circa-1991 radar detector that had inadvertently been activated.
After a thorough inspection, the estimate to make it a “right car” came back at around $6,000.
Al also said it was one of the most solid, honest 928s he had ever seen.
This seemed reasonable to me to put the car into “in-service” condition. One of the dangers of buying a car that has been brought back from storage is it simply hasn’t gone through the shakedown process that turns it “into a car.”
This can be a laborious process.
I would not be surprised if I am in the car $40,000 when it is finally working to my standards. Is that $5k or $10k over market for a 1991 S4 auto? Maybe. But as I didn’t buy it to resell, that doesn’t matter. For $40k, I will have a well-set-up example of Porsche’s V8 supercar of the ’90s.
I’ve opened another door to find out what unknown goodies are inside. I’ll be behind the wheel of a 5-liter, 32-valve V8 that produces 316 German horsepower. I will be living Piëch’s dream come true.
To answer the Porsche service manager from “Risky Business,” I’m the U-boat commander. ♦